Better Red: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olsen and Meridel Le Sueur

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University of Illinois Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 282 pages
Better Red is an interdisciplinary study addressing the complicated intersection of American feminism and the political left as refracted in Tillie Olsen's and Meridel Le Sueur's lives and literary texts. The first book-length study to explore these feminist writers' ties to the American Communist Party, it contributes to a re-envisioning of 1930s U.S. Communism as well as to efforts to promote working-class writing as a legitimate category of literary analysis. At once loyal members of the male-dominated Communist Party and emerging feminists, Olsen and Le Sueur move both toward and away from Party tenets and attitudes - subverting through their writing formalist as well as orthodox Marxist literary categories. Olsen and Le Sueur challenge the bourgeois assumptions - often masked as classless and universal - of much canonical literature; and by creating working-class women's writing, they problematize the patriarchal nature of the Left and the masculinist assumptions of much proletarian literature, anticipating the concerns of "second wave" feminists a generation later.
 

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BETTER RED: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olsen and Meridel Le Sueur

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A formal, leaden treatment that uses the lives and works of Olsen and Le Sueur to map the complex juncture of left-wing politics, second-wave feminism, and modern culture. Coiner inadvertently points ... Read full review

Contents

The Thirties Literary Left
15
Scratch a Communist Women and the American Communist Party During the Depression
39
Meridel Le Sueur Biographical Sketch and Reportage
72
Le Sueurs The Girl Our Fathers Annunciation and Corn Village
108
Tillie Olsen Biographical Sketch and Thirties Publications
141
Olsens Yonnondio From the Thirties
174
Literature as No Ones Private Ground Olsens Tell Me a Riddle and Silences
192
Conclusion
226
Notes
241
Works Cited
261
Index
275
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About the author (1995)

Coiner is an Associate Professor of English.

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